Child Nutrition and Development

For a neonate, mother’s milk is the best nutrition which he can get. Hence, breastfeeding becomes an important part of the diet for the child’s proper growth. Mother’s milk has such nutrition which even the baby food fed as a supplement to mother’s milk cannot provide. Even still breastfeeding is recommended up to 6 months of age. After 6-24 months they must be fed with “complementary food” since after 6 months of age, the milk alone is not sufficient for the child. Malnutrition due to negligence to diet during this period of growth can be very difficult to reverse. The lack of complementary feeding is the major cause of high rates of under-nutrition in children under 5 years of age. By the age child reaches adolescence, their growth is still accelerated and their caloric demands are higher than normal. For boys, the caloric needs are higher than that of girls of the same age due to metabolic differences.

Infants and Children by the age of 21 have a growing and changing body. Due to this they nutritional needs keeps changing with their age and development of the body. A pediatric nutritionist looks after the dietary needs of infants as well as adolescents. During the prenatal stage, the growth depends completely on the mother’s nutrition. In the postnatal period, the need of proteins is the most because of the rapid increase in height and weight. Though the growth occurs in spurts, 55% of the energy of the child is spent in metabolic maintenance, 25% on activity, 12% on growth, and 8% on excretion. The chances of malnutrition are the highest due bad eating habits, emotional factors, peer pressure and selective eating habits. Such malnutrition can lead to anemia from iron deficiency or scurvy from vitamin c deficiency. A pediatric nurse or a nutritionist needs to make sure that the parents are given the right knowledge about the dietary needs of their growing child.  However, overfeeding in early childhood can lead to obesity or hypervitaminosis.


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